While doing some legal gun trading Thursday, I struck up a conversation with Greg Grimes, co-owner of Trail Creek Trade Co., and the visit I expected to last about 15 minutes turned into a 45-minute stay during which I listened to a man tell me about a work of art adorning the wall of his antique firearms shop in the St. Louis suburb of St. Ann.
After negotiating the terms of a transaction involving two very old handguns, conversation followed and Grimes began to lament the declining interest many Americans have in guns as well as history in general. A few anecdotes later, he directed my attention to a black-framed portrait of an American Soldier hanging on the wall and an associate of his lifted it off the wall and brought it over.
Grimes proceeded to tell me he came into possession of the framed artwork after a friend, who had rescued it from a pile of things bound for a dumpster and then held on to it for a decade, gave it to him. Since then, it has hung on the wall at the gun shop.
In addition to the fact that the artwork features a pencil sketch of an American Soldier, several other aspects make it special:
• It appears to have been drawn and signed by one of the German POWs for whom the Soldier was responsible;
• It features an honorable message (i.e., “In memory of your prisoners of war”) between one-time adversaries in a horrific war;
• It bears a date, 2 June 1945, that came only 25 days after the date on which hostilities in Europe came to an official end (i.e., “V-E Day” or “Victory in Europe Day”); and
• Finally, the back side of the portrait bears what appears to be the signatures of a total of eight German POWs, one of which matches the signature of the artist on the front.
I asked Grimes if he had ever tried to locate any of the people whose names appear on the piece, front and back. He said he had, but without success. That’s when I told him I would take photos of the piece and share details about it with my online readers, readers of my nonfiction books, Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO (both of which can be ordered here), my contacts in the traditional and non-traditional news media worldwide and with my friends in patriotic and veterans organizations.
I don’t know if the man in the portrait is still alive, but my goal — and that of Grimes — is to see that the portrait is returned to this man or to a member of his extended family prior to June 2, 2015, the 70th Anniversary of the date on the portrait. To accomplish this goal, we need your help.
If you recognize him, please send details to me via email at BobMcCartyWrites (at) gmail (dot) com or leave a comment below. If you do not recognize him but want to help, please share this information far and wide. Thanks in advance for your help!